Hudson Bay Company

Picture above: Drawing of a canoe voyage of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1825, Peter Rindisbacher. Courtesy Library and Archives Canada via Wikipedia Commons. Right: Drawing of New Amsterdam, 1664, Johannes Vingboons. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

New Amsterdam

Pre-Revolution Timeline - The 1600s


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  • 1667 Detail

    September 6, 1667 - A large hurricane ravages southeast Virginia, with twelve days of rain, causing damage to plantation homes and crops.

    Jamestown Island Map and Lord Berkeley

    It's hard to imagine today what a hurricane would seem like in 1667. There would be no warning, no names for the newcasts to refer to. The warnings would be reduced to some activity once the edge of the storm began to blow a few hours before or some indications by the animals in the fields and forests. There would be no history of just where and how the waters of the area would rise. Now, the native Americans of the areas, in Jamestown, the Powhatan, would have had some knowledge of this. However, they were not always on good terms with the English since their arrival in 1607, although after Opechancanough had attempted his attacks from 1644-46, they had been subdued and subjugated to specific lands, some of the first reservations, and in any case, they would have had no warning either.

    The first sighting of the hurricane was in the Lesser Antilles on September 1, 1667. Five days later, that hurricane had traveled up the southeast coast of colonial America and hit the Outer Banks of the North Carolina colony, with many buildings destroyed and crops damaged. Then it smashed into Virginia, the first recorded colonial hurricane there. Once it made landfall northeast of Jamestown, its full fury unfurled. The massive rains of the hurricane lasted twenty-four hours, but were followed by twelve more days of rain. The casualties were countless; ships were damaged, cows were drowned, their crops were gone, and ten thousand houses were destroyed. There is no reliable estimate on the amount of residents who lost their lives, but the estimate of the storm surge, something the colonists could never had imagined, was twelve feet.

    The hurricane and rains that followed were so significant that they widened the Lynnhaven River. Two days later, it had dissipated into a strong strong, hitting Manhattan on September 8, 1667. Twelve days later, the rains stopped in Virginia and the colony of Jamestown, and much of the rest of the Colony of Virginia, had been reduced to ruins.

    Letter from Thomas Ludwell, Secretary of the Virginia Colony to Lord Berkeley of Stratton

    Fortunately, Thomas Ludwell, had the task and foresight to send a descriptive report of the hurricane to Lord Berkeley of Stratton, the brother to Sir William Berkeley, the Governor of Virginia, and a good friend of the King.

    Virginia, November 4th, I667.

    Right Hon'ble

    We have been soe long here without any Intelligence Directly from England that we are not only troubled that we know not the reason of it, but afraid when we doe know it that we shall find it to proceed either from some distresse of the nation or from some misfortune happened or to happen to this poor Country which is now reduced to a very miserable condition by a continual course of misfortunes, through as much of this yeare as have passed for in the beginning of it my Lord Baltimore at one Stroke lop'd from us our present & future hopes of the benefit of a Cessation, (not planting as much tobacco so to raise the price) in the April following we had a most prodigious Storm of hail many of them as big as Turkey Eggs which destroyed most of our younge Mast and fruit, and forward English grain brake all the glass windowes and beat holes through the tiles of our houses, killed many young hogs and cattle, on the fifth of June following came the Dutch upon us and did so much mischief that we shall never recover our reputations since we lost the first opportunity by the backwardness of some of our Masters of Ships they were not gone before it fell to raining and continued for 40 dayes together which spoiled much of what the hail had left of our English graine.

    But on the 27th of August (Julian calendar used by the English until 1752) followed the most dreadful hurricane that ever this country groaned under, it lasted 24 hours began at North East and went round northerly till it came to WN'est and so on till it came to South East where it ceased it was accompanied with a most violent rain but no thunder was the most Dismall tyme that ever I know or heard of, for the wind and rain raised so confused a noise mixt with the continual cracks of falling houses and the murmer of the waves impetuously beaten against the shores and by that violence forced and as it were crowded up into all Creekes Rivers and Bays to that prodigious height that it hazarded the drowning of many people who lived not in sight of the Rivers yet were then forced to climb to the top of their houses to keep themselves above water carryed all the foundations of the fort at Point Comfort into the river and most of our Timber which was very chargeably brought thither to perfect it, had it been finished and a Garrison in it they had been stormed by such an enemy as no power but God's can restrain and in all likelyhood drowned, so that had the lightening accompanied it we should have believed nothing else from such a Confusion but that all the Elements were at strife which of them should do most towards the reduction of the Creation into a second Chaos, it was wonderful to consider the contrary effects of that storm, for it blew some ships from their Anchors and carried them safe over shelves of sand where a Wherry could difficulty pass, and yet knockt out the bottom of a ship belonging to Col. Scarbrough (ready to sail for England) in eight foot water more than she drew, but when the morning came, and the sun arisen it would have comforted us (or any else) after such a night had it not withall lighted us to ruins of our Plantations, of which I think not one escaped, the nearest computation is at least 10,000 houses blown down all the Indian Grain laid flat upon the ground all the Tobacco in the fields torn to pieces and most of that which was in the houses perished with them, the fences about the corn fields either blown down or beaten to the ground by trees which fell upon them and before the owners could repair them the hogs and cattle got in and in most places devoured much of what the Storm had left and in many places all so that we are at once threatened with the sword of the enemy returning upon us with extreme wants of provision by the Storm and of cloathes, ammunition and other necessaries by the absence of the ships, against the first of which we are providing as well as we can, the last Assembly having voted five forts of eight guns to each fort to be built before the last of April next concluding that if they should build but one at James Town the shipps must necessarily ride all under it and consequently all the remoter parts would be left without Trade which would be true enough ... T-Shirts and Gifts

    Letter Continued

    ... So that the Governor finding them much more willing to divide themselves into Associations, and each Division to build its fort at their own charge would press them no further for one at James Town only. Soe the 3 Counties at mouth of Potomac river build one at the mouth of Yohocomico river (Westmoreland County) a secure harbour and not 200 Yards wide at the mouth and so difficult that they must warp into it. The 2 counties in Rapahanck River build one at the mouth of Corotoman (could be Carter's Creek) a harbour like the other, the 3 Counties on York river one at Tindal Point (present Gloucester Point) a very good place though not so secure as the other 2 the lower 5 Counties on James river build one at a very convenient point at Nanzeinond river (Huft's Point) where the Channel is as narrow as any of the former and the four upper counties build one of 14 guns at James Town which though it be upon the main river yet it being a secure bold shore shipps may hale so near that our Enemy will I hope find it a difficult piece of work to carry any of. Having thus far given your Honour the present state of this country I shall now inform your Lordship that though we were indifferently well furnished with ammunition to defend the County yet some of that perished by the Storm there being few houses tite against it and being to defend these forts when built it were necessary that we had a greater quantity brought us and fearing lest the King's displeasure may take from us all hopes of any future assistance from him I do most humbly beseech your honour on the country's behalf that you will be pleased to make a Motion to His Majesty in Council that no ship may be permitted to come but on Condition that they bring us amongst them 60 or 70 barrels of powder and as many rundletts of shot and 5 or 6 hundred Culverings Demiculvers Sacre and nimion Shot to be paid for here this is necessary if the war continue as I do but too much feare it by the long stay of the Ships and it is Charity to assist the distressed which we cannot doubt from your Lordship having already received many great favours from you...

    ... I hope it will appear to His Majesty that it was not from any neglect of his commands that the last misfortunes fell on His Majesty us and our countrymen but from our being remanded from our first Councells of fortifying wherein I am confident His Majesty was surprised by all the Bristow [Bristol] men which brought us so behindhand with a fort at Point Comfort a place which (let Bristow men say what they please) could not have prevented their loss, for I myself was at the Sounding of the Channel into the river and found no less than 15 foot water in about a mile from the point at a low water which is 17 foot at high water which is more than a Dutch Ship of 40 pieces of ordnance draws and in a mile's run they are passed danger of which I wrote to Your Lordship at large by the Fleet which I hope long ere this is come to your hands or else we are much more unhappy than we yet think ourselves I shall therefore say no more of it at present but shall humbly beseech Your Honour to favour us for much that (if our papers are misarranged) the Bristow men may not take that advantage of us as to have their Complaint heard before we can send Duplicates of our Defence and may God for ever bless and prosper Your Honour with all happiness and me with opportunity & power to do you service in some measure proportioned to the favours I have received from your Honour.

    I am, Right Hon'ble
    Your Lordships most obedient humble Servant


    Image above: Background: Jamestown Island Map, 1958, National Park Service via Wikipedia; Inset: Portrait Lord William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia Colony, 1663, Harriet L.T. Montague, Sir Peter Lely. Courtesy Colonial Virginia, its Peoples and Customs, 1917, via Wikipedia Commons. Image below: Buildings inside the reconstructed fort at Jamestown settlement, 2019, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info source: "The History Magazine of History and Biography, 1911, Virginia Historical Society; "1667: The Dreadful Hurricane of 1667,", Seventeenth Century Virginia Hurricanes. NOAA Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. 2001; Wikipedia.

    House in Jamstown Fort reconstruction

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